Washington dialogue to set agenda for Modi-Obama meet


S&CD

WASHINGTON: A week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the UNGA session, India and the US are set to hold their first Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) in Washington on September 22. The dialogue will firm up the agenda and flesh out outcomes for the much-awaited Modi-Obama meeting in New York on September 28

The Indian delegation will be led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and would also include Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister for Power Piyush Goyal and senior officials. The US delegation would include Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

The first ministerial meet of India-US Strategic dialogue was held in 2010 in Washington and followed by successive rounds in New Delhi (July 2011), Washington D.C. (June 2012) and New Delhi (June 2013 and July 2014). The decision to upgrade and rechristen the dialogue to “Strategic and Commercial” was taken during President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015.

The global economic scenario has not dampened the spirits of the two countries to upscale their economic partnership and increase bilateral trade from USD 100 billion to USD 500 billion in the foreseeable future. However, investment barriers need to be reduced between the two countries and commercial regulations need to be streamlined to open up new markets. New technologies need to be facilitated as well. The two countries are looking to invest in each other’s economic success just as they are collaborating across a swatheof regional and global issues.

India and the US will also be looking to firm up new initiatives to enhance cooperation in areas such as energy, environment, science and technology, space, health and education. Ease of doing business    and simplifying the tax regime in India would be a major concern for foreign investors that would figure in the dialogue between the two countries.